Happy Friday folks. I’d like to encourage each of you to take the next thirty seconds to close your eyes and breathe. That’s it, no thinking, moving, or listening. Just breathe. Go ahead, do it, I’ll wait….
It has been an incredibly productive past few weeks here on campus and I am sure your life at home is no different. The world around us is continuously moving at a faster pace and we are constantly creating new agendas and expectations for ourselves. I am sure we can all relate to the concept of just trying to keep our head above water. That feeling is not shared by everyone, however. It is typically reserved for those of us who are driven. Driven to be successful, to improve, and to challenge ourselves to constantly develop. It’s not an easy world to live in, but it is the expectation we’ve set for ourselves, and for each of our students.
This past week has offered quite the spectacle of examples for this drive that we share as families, Ironwood staff and each of our students.
Family weekend offered special opportunity to see first-hand, how far you have come and how hard each of you have been working. There were some incredible learning opportunities, moments of praise, and some all-important realizations that took place on campus this past weekend. I personally had the opportunity to see several of you laugh together, problem solve and better understand how, as a family member, you have unique perspectives and experiences of value.
The Ironwood program is also constantly challenging itself. In the recent days, the management team has taken steps to implement a new employee development system. Encompassing strategic monthly check ins with each staff, individualized developmental goals, a cohort system to support multiple levels of leadership, and a recently enhanced annual review system. Each of these components are being put into place to simultaneously challenge and support our staff through daily responsibilities, as well as their own, personal mission.
It goes without saying each of our students are continuously being challenged in a variety of areas and I am in awe of their resilience and perseverance. This week was a very special culmination of hard work and acknowledgement of several student’s progression through the program. There was a parade of students that were welcomed into the Farmhouse for the first time this week and there were also promotions to our highest, level four status. Also, most refreshing, there were a few students whose hard work and persistence has been acknowledged by receiving their level two “purples.” To me, this is the most important process of the entire program. It is the initial awareness that a student has accepted Ironwood and is trying to move forward with greater success in their life.
We also had a student graduate this week! A very rewarding ceremony for all involved, but I was particularly blown away by her essay’s theme.
She spoke about her initial introduction to the program and how volatile her mental status was. She mentioned outside distractions and expectations that led her to destructive actions. She spoke about the process of acceptance, awareness, coping and managing, and then the final state of equanimity. She shared that she has learned how to stop and breathe, tell herself it’s going to be okay, and to not let anything have a negative impact on her emotional or physical status. Her composure in explaining her personal confrontation to conflict both in the past and plans for the future, hushed the room.
Even as I sit here in this moment, looking at the clock and noticing that this update has to be posted in 10 minutes, I struggle with my own equanimity. I think about each of us as adults, trying to navigate this world with a positive attitude, despite constant challenges. And then I remember, we asked for this, we are the driven, wanting the best of ourselves and for our family members…and we are capable.
Have a great weekend and thank you for placing your trust in Ironwood.